Saturday, February 03, 2007

The Penalty – 1920

The Penalty – 1920

Staring: Lon Chaney
Director: Wallace Worsley


The film begins with Blizzard (later played by Chaney) as a child, in bed after an accident, with a new doctor trying to figure out if amputation is necessary or not. Unfortunately, he makes the decision before a more seasoned doctor arrives, who later discovers that the operation was probably unnecessary. The doctors decide to cover this up, but Blizzard hears this and no one believes him.

20 or so years later (though they’d be driving 1919 models in the early 40s), Blizzard has become a hardened criminal, a mob leader of San Francisco, who’s finally caught up with the doctor who made him lose his legs. And now that Doctor's gonna pay.

Chaney's performance in "The Penalty" was amazing, playing a hardened, detestable criminal. He did an amazing job portraying an amputee, but I’m not so sure about the rumors that he suffered spine/back damage due to the leather straps he used to keep his legs back. Unfortunately I found the resolution of the film to be a bit lame and too much of copout for such a great screen character. But great film none the less.

I also wasn't a huge fan of some of the music for the version that was shown on TCM, some of it was great, while other parts were too heavy on the 80s/early 90s style synth-"crashing" music.

Film: ***(1/2)/*****
Music: */*****

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